Free Trade threatens custom land in the Pacific | Pacific Network on Globalisation

“Custom land is so central to life in the Pacific Islands that its importance cannot be overstated. Yet through the eyes of free trade agreements it is seen as a barrier to investment, something that needs to be challenged,” commented PANG Campaigner Adam Wolfenden.

The briefing paper outlines many of the common questions about free trade and what it means for custom land in the Pacific Islands.

“Previous attempts to privatise land in the Pacific have been meet with a strong refusal by Islanders. What we’re seeing now is free trade advocates using these agreements to secure control over the usage of the land, which can in effect mean that custom decisions about land use are undermined” added Mr Wolfenden.

“We’re seeing this in Vanuatu where its Trade in Services commitments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) mean the government’s ability to specifically support and nurture land use for Indigenous enterprise, such as local burree owners or other tourist accommodation, can only happen if it gives the same support to foreign investors” continued Mr Wolfenden.

via Free Trade threatens custom land in the Pacific | Pacific Network on Globalisation.

Freshwater Politics and the Gateway Project University of Toronto Press Blog University of Toronto Press Blog

To mark the recent publication of Freshwater Politics in Canada, author Peter Clancy provides a brief overview of the freshwater dimensions of the controversial Northern Gateway project, as well as its many political dimensions. For more on this, or on related issues such as fracking, salmon conservation, Aboriginal water interests, freshwater governance, etc., grab a copy of his brand new book!

The Northern Gateway project is one of the most significant energy ventures in Canada today. It proposes a 36 inch oil pipeline to convey diluted bitumen (heavy synthetic oil) from the Fort McMurray region to Kitimat BC. There it will be loaded onto tankers for Asian markets. A parallel 20 inch line will carry imported natural gas condensates, required in the manufacturing process, in the opposite direction. About 45 percent of the 1,177 km corridor is in Alberta with the balance in British Columbia.

Freshwater politics is only part of the controversy here but it is a big part. More than one thousand rivers and streams must be crossed. While all watercourses are sensitive, the proposed Gateway route crosses five major Canadian watersheds. The Skeena and the Fraser drain to the Pacific, the Peace and the Athabasca flow northerly to the Arctic Ocean and the North Saskatchewan River flows easterly to Hudson’s Bay. These watersheds and sub-watersheds enclose a plethora of biological and social communities and each generates a variety of political concerns.

via Freshwater Politics and the Gateway Project University of Toronto Press Blog University of Toronto Press Blog.

Climate change report: ‘The worst is yet to come’ – as it happened | Environment | theguardian.com

Human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival,” write three of the contributors to the IPCC report’s health chapter.

Writing for Australia’s the Conversation, professors Colin Butler and Helen Louise Berry, and Emeritus professor Anthony McMichael say the focus has been largely on “spurious debate about the basic science and on the risks to property, iconic species and ecosystems, jobs, the GDP and the economics of taking action versus taking our chances.”

Missing from the discussion is the threat climate change poses to Earth’s life-support system – from declines in regional food yields, freshwater shortage, damage to settlements from extreme weather events and loss of habitable, especially coastal, land. The list goes on: changes in infectious disease patterns and the mental health consequences of trauma, loss, displacement and resource conflict.

via Climate change report: ‘The worst is yet to come’ – as it happened | Environment | theguardian.com.

BBC News – Deep sea mining ‘gold rush’ moves closer

….

Extinction risk

And Prof Paul Tyler, also a biologist, of the National Oceanography Centre, warned that unique species would be at risk.

“If you wipe out that area by mining, those animals have to do one of two things: they disperse and colonise another hydrothermal vent somewhere or they die.

“And what happens when they die is that the vent will become biologically extinct.”

However, marine chemist Prof Rachel Mills, of the University of Southampton, called for a wider debate about mining generally on the grounds that we all use minerals and that mines on land are far larger than any would be on the seabed.

She has carried out research for Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian firm planning to mine hydrothermal vents off Papua New Guinea.

“Everything we are surrounded by, the way we live, relies on mineral resources and we don’t often ask where they come from,” she said.

“We need to ask whether there is sustainable mining on land and whether there is sustainable mining in the seas.

“I actually think it is the same moral questions we ask whether it’s from the Andes or down in the Bismarck Sea.”

This debate is set to intensify as the reality of the first mining operations comes closer.

David Shukman presents a documentary on deep sea mining on Discovery on the BBC World Service

Deep Sea Mining − The Pacific Experiment | Pacific Voyagers

Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals Inc. has staked its reputation on bringing off the world’s first deep sea mining (DSM) operation. The Bismarck Sea in Papua New Guinea has been marked out as the testing ground for this unprecedented technology. Many other companies − from Japan, China, Korea, the UK, Canada, USA, Germany and the Russian Federation − are waiting to see if Nautilus can successfully bring metals from sea floor to smelter before taking the plunge themselves.  They have already taken out exploration licenses covering over 1.5 million square kilometers of the Pacific sea floor.

This frenzy of DSM exploration is occurring in the absence of regulatory regimes or conservation areas to protect the unique and little known ecosystems of the deep sea and without meaningful consultation with the communities who will be affected by DSM.  Furthermore, scientific research into impacts remains extremely limited and provides no assurance that the health of coastal communities and the fisheries on which they depend will be guaranteed.

via Deep Sea Mining − The Pacific Experiment | Pacific Voyagers.